Sugarwings

Jumping forward slightly from the last three day’s posts to 1989 with a pair of dreads from East London, Alex Ayuli and Rudy Tambala. As AR Kane they made some bewildering and beautiful music, combining guitars with synths and breakbeats and what would become shoegaze. The pair used the term dream pop to describe their music, and the ambient, dubby swirl give many of their songs a dreamlike state. They released two albums- in 1986 their debut 69 followed in 1988 by ‘i’, both on Rough Trade. In 1990 they put out an e.p. of remixes from ‘i’ called rem’i’xes, with Cocteau Twin Robin Guthrie providing three new versions and AR Kane themselves three more. This one is lilting and sweet but off kilter and experimental too.

Sugarwings (AR Kane Remix)

With Colourbox (as MARRS) they they would make Pump Up The Volume, an experience neither band enjoyed and wasn’t repeated, but which resulted in an international hit for MARRS and 4AD. The A-side, a number one single, is an amazing record, a groundbreaking piece of UK house music, laden with samples and a propulsive rhythm. There were so any problems with sample clearence that different versions were released in different countries. Pump Up The Volume was mainly the work of Colourbox and DJs Dave Dorrell and CJ Mackintosh. AR Kane’s contribution was pretty much solely a guitar line. The B-side was largely an AR Kane song but with drum programming from Colourbox’s Martyn Young and while not sounding much at all like Pump Up The Volume is a great track in its own right.

Anitina (The First Time I See She Dance)

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Sail To Me

The This Mortal Coil cover version I posted on Tuesday, a genuine 80s indie classic from Ivo Watts-Russell, Liz Fraser and Robin Guthrie, has been re-edited by In The Valley. You might think that the TMC original is so peerless that it should never be tinkered with. In fact, In The Valley says on his/her/their Soundcloud page ‘They told me not to touch the classics, but I did’. And it is worth it, taking the spectral qualities of the Guthrie and Fraser song and marrying it to a Balearic reggae feel. You’ll be playing this several times this morning alone (and there’s a download button too).

Theatre De La Mer

After a few years of holding the annual Convenanza festival inside the castle at Carcasonne this year’s Convenanza moved to the coast and and the port town of Sete. Convenanza is a three day festival organised by Bernie Fabre with a line up of artists chosen by Andrew Weatherall and Bernie- this year’s festival at Sete took place in the outdoor theatre shown above, the Theatre de la Mer where the backdrop is the Mediterranean Sea. I can’t get to the south of France for a weekend during term time but I have online sources who were there and provided a running commentary of pictures, clips, tunes and reports over the weekend. The line up for this year looked like this…
As the weekend wound down one of my social media friends was raving about the impact this song had when played in the theatre outdoors after dark. It’s a lovely Balearic chugger from 2012 by Coyote with a vocal by Gavin Gordon, the sort of song that takes you up and brings you down…
There’s a very good acid tinged remix by Sean Johnston , the half of A Love From Outer Space that isn’t Mr Weatherall. The same roving reporter on the dockside also pointed us towards this one by Norway’s Laars, a mid-paced dj set track that goes a bit loopy in the middle and seems to have set hairs on the back of the neck on end and arms in the air…
The ALFOS dj set, Weatherall and Johnston back to back, on Friday night closed with This Mortal Coil’s spine-tingling cover of Song To The Siren, Liz Fraser’s voice drifting out from the theatre to the sea, ‘Long afloat on shipless oceans, I did all my best to smile’…

Help Me Lift You Up

Thunder is a good way to start a song. I was thinking this on Sunday night as thunder rumbled away outside our window, the odd flash of lightning and rain fell like stair rods. And while scrolling through a folder of songs, looking for something else, I found this song and clicked play. It started with thunder and I don’t ignore those kind of coincidences. It’s a gorgeous song too, a cover of a Mary Margaret O’Hara song, by Ivo Watt Russell’s 4AD dreampop collective This Mortal Coil. (off their final album Blood, from 1991). The thunder is followed by a slow heart beat pulse bassline and then we’re into dark night of the soul territory- and we come out feeling better.

Help Me Lift You Up

Tragically, the beautiful voice of this song, Caroline Crawley (whose main band was Shelleyan Orphan, a psychedelic, folk-pop group) died in October 2016 after a long illness. Which makes this sad sounding song all the sadder.

Blind Spot

Quite a few bloggers have written about the new Lush song. It’s part of a forthcoming four track e.p. out in April called Blind Spot. Out Of Control sounds pretty wonderful, shimmering guitars and breathless vocals.

In 1990 they put out a four track e.p. called Mad Love which featured a band highpoint in the song De-Luxe, recently described by Miki as being about ‘having sex, outdoors. At 7 in the morning. On ecstacy.’ The final song on that e.p. was this one, which has shimmering guitars and breathless vocals.

Thoughtforms

De Luxe

If I was going to make a compilation album by late 80s and early 90s indie bands singing songs about sex then this would be on it. It’s not something that has occurred to me before but just recently I heard Going Down by The Stone Roses followed by De Luxe by Lush and the thought popped into my head. De Luxe is rather great really, crashing drums, shimmering, psychedelic guitars and the lovely Miki’s vocals. Lush were a bit derided at the time, portrayed as bandwagon jumpers with friends in the press, ligging every night in Camden. They got a bit of flak for the photo shoot (above) too if I remember right- but some of the songs have stayed the course.

Long Was The Morning

I may have posted this song before, or at least one of its versions (there are a few), but it was a few years back and it bears repeating. Arena II is a song by mid 80s samples, electronics plus instruments band Colourbox. They made a lot of reggae influenced stuff and some BAD style sample-driven instrumentals but this song is a piano ballad. It has factory settings drum machine, some clicky percussion, great big piano chords and a superb vocal. It is a bit proto-house music. It is about love lost. The bottom line- it is a piano ballad.

Arena 2

As I was listening to this song (while trying to type this post) Mrs Swiss came in and said ‘what 80s nonsense is this? It is 80s isn’t it?’ ‘1985’ I replied. I was about to type the words ‘I don’t think this song sounds thirty years old’, but maybe I’d be wrong.